An illustration of a girl seated on her room and looking over her shoulder surrounded by plants.

Okay, I’m just going to say it. The term “New Year’s resolution” is not motivating to me. If I sound sour and jaded, then it’s because I am.

Throughout the years, I’ve made list after list and at the top of each lies a goal that I’m passionate about achieving. Yet without fail, by the time December rolls around, the only changes I’ve seen in my resolutions are that the paper is crinkled and the ink is smudged. If they could talk, then my goals would tell me how offended they are by their disheveled new home at the bottom of my work bag. That’s if they haven’t already lost their voice from countless days of trying to remind me not to forget about them, only to be drowned out with, “I’ve just had a really long day,” and “I’ll start tomorrow.”

No, maybe instead they’d save their scratchy voice and give me a long, somber look that says, “I’m not mad. I’m just disappointed.”  

To avoid feelings of failure or like I’m neglecting my goals in my day-to-day, I opt for a lighter, comfier feeling that I can access instantly by clicking on one of several social media apps on my phone. With the click of a button, my uncomfortable feelings dissipate and are replaced with a funny meme, a piece of useless celebrity gossip that is completely irrelevant to my life or a picture of some girl I knew in high school’s new cat. Voila! In a second’s time, not only have I stopped thinking about my own disappointment, but I’ve stopped thinking about my goals altogether. 

This is a common pattern: We dream, get overwhelmed with life, turn to distractions and repeat. (Cue the fireworks!) Now in the past, in an attempt to interrupt this cycle, I’ve poured more thought into the “dream” step. I think bigger. I make vision boards. I marinate in passion. I get excited.

We dream, get overwhelmed with life, turn to distractions and repeat.

Yet, when life inevitably happens—work stress, sleep anxiety, relationship stress, you name it—it’s easy to return to step three in a hurry. Can someone say “mindless scrolling”? It’s time to get real about which distractions I’m allowing (or rather welcoming with open arms) to interrupt my pursuit of my dreams as other commitments climb my priority list. 

What are the distractions that you’ve grown accustomed to relying on? For many of us, one answer is social media. Here are three tips to ensure that social media is moving in alignment with your journey toward your goals and passions in the new year rather than against them.

Refresh your feed.

Once you’ve determined where you want to focus your energy in the new year, spend a bit of time assessing whether the accounts and pages you follow support your aspirations. Who do you follow? Does the content they post bring you joy, hope and inspiration? If so, then use this energy as momentum to keep you on track.

Does the content they post bring you joy, hope and inspiration?

If you’re feeling jealous, insecure or pessimistic as a result of what’s on your feed, then remember that there is an unfollow button for a reason. Note: I’m not labeling any accounts as objectively good or bad. Their value, so to speak, is entirely dependent on their impact on you. The same photo or post will impact some positively, some negatively and others not at all. Check in with your truth, honor your feelings and respond accordingly. 

Check the time.

The goal is to be so busy following your passions that you don’t even have time to stress over social media. Start by scheduling times of the day or week when you’ll commit to being phone-free. Maybe that means your phone stays in a drawer on Sundays or every night for an hour before bed. Set a goal that works for you, and it’s okay to start small.

The key to implementing this tip successfully is to plan how you’d rather use this time. Get started on that business plan. Write a handwritten letter to a friend. Try out a new recipe. Whatever you choose, be intentional and celebrate yourself and your effort. It may be hard not to check your notifications at first, but you’ll be amazed at the benefits you’ll cultivate overtime!

Post later. 

After you capture a gram-worthy selfie with your girls, it’s tempting to post immediately. More often than not, the topic of conversation then shifts to writing the perfect caption or selecting the most flattering filter. Who knows how long that will take? Now imagine if this conversation was postponed until later, leaving ample time for a chat about that new class you’ve been wanting to try or laughs over that embarrassing moment at work.

Spending time with people who you care about is re-energizing and rejuvenating. Let’s leave our phones in our bags, make eye contact and be present with the people who root us on and inspire us to reach our dreams. 

What ways can you use social media differently this year? How can you protect your mental and emotional health while maintaining an online presence?

Image via Rafaela Mascaro of Studio Grand-Père

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4 comments

  1. Hi there!
    I am also not a big fun of New Year’s resolution but while thinking of how I can improve my life and behaviour this year, I have noticed that recently I have been using my phone way too often and generally spent too much time chatting with ppl on fb, whatsapp or instagram. That is why I decided to have a few days in a week just for myself! Sometimes, I switch my phone for 3 days a week, sometimes just for one but either way, it is amazing how much ‘extra’ time I have in my ‘offline’ days! I would strongly recomment it to everyone once in a while, coming back to days when cell phones did not exist! I am telling you, that was a different world in which time goes sloooow 🙂
    All the best

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